I have been pondering lately about what is that absolutely essential quality that differentiates one person from another…what makes a leader… and even there, what makes a leader that people don’t even have to think about following, that they believe in absolutely and feel for deeply. There seem to be so many qualities and capabilities that people write about; there are articles and notes and thoughts galore; everyone has an opinion…
But the more I think, and the deeper I look, I keep coming back to this one thing that seems to lie under and prompt many of the other facets and behaviors – it is Generosity.
Vision, intelligence, drive, ambition, dreams … all very individual, “me” words until they are lined by generosity … until they are shared. Everything else is an addition, any of these other things can be dispensed with or complemented through other people, they can be learned and acquired. It is that one single thing which makes all the difference… and the one thing which is difficult to fake, difficult to cultivate, difficult to learn – difficult to even fathom for some.
Maybe that why so many “leaders” do not see that all they need to do is “give” to get everything that they demand, without needing to demand it – give space; give trust; give up their need for visibility and their craving for credit to those they lead; give in when it is urgent to another; give of their time, give their understanding and tolerance; give affection and belief – a hand or an ear when it is needed, a pat when one will help, a smile and reward where due, and sometimes even when it is not; the frown and shove sometimes warranted, with the unspoken promise of support through it all – give, give and give – of themselves. Generosity creates followers … believers … people who are also willing to give.
Vision spurs on entrepreneurs, inventors and strategists; intelligence creates experts and scientists; drive and ambition gives us great managers and high achievers; dreams – drive us all… but the true leaders of men are those who couple some of this with an innate generosity of spirit and an inability to think just of themselves.
(A friend and mentor, one of the most impactful senior leaders I have known, presents an insightful perspective on the immense power of generosity in his blog posting : refer – http://ifluence.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/powerful-or-power-fool-some-perspectives/ )